Archive for the ‘Construction’ Category

Pyongyang’s ‘Mirae Shop’ opens, showing Kim Jong Un’s emphasis on science and talents

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

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Pictured above: The Mirae Shop (R) and Mirae Health Complex (L)

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

Mirae Shop’ (literally ‘future shop’) has reopened, showing the importance and privilege being placed on developing science and talented people in the Kim Jong Un era. The store is located along the banks of the Pothong River in Pyongyang. On April 12, state media outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that “since the store’s reopening in early April, it has been packed with scientists, engineers and people coming in every day.”

Mirae Shop was first opened in 2012 and recently moved to its current location. The store’s architecture portrays rockets and earth-like pillars holding up the roof. The store sells domestically produced goods such as home appliances, cosmetics, daily necessities, and food.

The name of the shop was chosen to by Kim Jong Un to commemorate the late Kim Jong Il’s visit to the store in January 2012. He ordered during on-site instruction last March to “open the store as soon as possible to let not only scientists and engineers but everyone to come and shop as much as they please.”

Prior to the construction of the store, Kim Jong Il himself took charge of the store’s site, architectural design, construction, construction materials, and products guarantee policy and on December 15, 2011, just before his death, he ordered for “the store to be used by scientists and engineers.”

Mirae Shop opened initially in 2012 in Pyongyang to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth. It was opened for scientists and engineers to shop. KNCA also introduced the store and explained how the name was chosen by Kim Jong Un. The report also underscored how development of science and technology is the key factor in the country’s prosperity.

According to KCNA, this store has a variety of popular products from home appliances to groceries and has a wide range of customer services such as personal tailoring, watch/clock repairs, elevators wide enough to accommodate shopping carts, and fountain drinks served in the lounge.

The store is used mainly by the employees and researchers from Kim Il Sung University and Kim Chaek University of Technology and scientists from the National Academy of Science.

I have also written about the Mirae Shop and Health Complex in Radio Free Asia.

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Kim Jong-un’s Party Congress prep: construction projects

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

Kim Jong-un has made at least two announcements recently, as the Korean Worker’s Party heads for its 7th Party Congress in May, about construction projects to be done. One of them is an orphanage in Ryanggang province, Daily NK reports:

Projects underway to promote Kim Jong Un’s legacy as a leader ahead of the 7th Party Congress in May are said to be in full swing across the nation. One such project taking place in Ryanggang Province calls for the full mobilization of residents to build an orphanage as an expression of the leader’s “love for the next generation,” Daily NK has learned.

“Authorities have recently been harassing residents saying that the orphanage under construction next to Kim Jong Suk Teachers’ College in Yonbong-dong needs to be ready for the Marshal’s (Kim Jong Un) inspection by the time of the Party Congress,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on Thursday. “The provincial party office has been hurrying people along, claiming the construction must be completed before the event.”

Progress was said to be slow during the winter, which was unseasonably cold, but construction efforts are now appearing to ramp up.

The project is being driven by the provincial head secretary and other cadres from the provincial Party and People’s Committee and is being promoted as a means to express loyalty to the leader, who has emphasized his “love for children,” said the source.

She added that cadres associated with the efforts, who have confidently stated that the facility will see completion before the Party Congress, have also been intensifying crackdowns on those seeking to avoid mobilization, out of concern that failure to complete the project on time may lead to issues of accountability.

“Vendors who are busy trying to make a living in the market were often able to get out (of mobilization) with bribes, but even that isn’t easy now,” a separate source in Ryanggang Province explained.

“The price for skipping a day of mobilization is now up to 10 RMB (13,000 KPW) a day per head, so some find it more affordable to just go to the construction site.”

The 13,000 KPW demanded is enough to purchase approximately 2kg of rice based on current prices, which is far from negligible for most members of the public. The higher price tag in effect acts as a tool to turn up the heat on people for mobilization.

The pressure to complete the project before the major political gathering has led to mobilization of students in the afternoons and workers at state-run factory as well.

The near full mobilization also involves specialized colleges, meaning that among the younger generation, stormtroopers (who are working on a railway project in Samjiyon) are seemingly the only group among ordinary residents that are exempt from the orphanage project.

Full article:
Kim Jong Un calls for construction of new orphanage in time for Party Congress
Kang Mi Jin
Daily NK
2016-04-19

IFES at Kyungnam University has also published an analysis of the news about the Ryomyong street project, which Curtis has already written about in this blog. They note that the recent sanctions do not seem to have altered plans for the project. Kim Jong-un’s rhetoric instead highlights the project as a blow against the international community and the US — North Korea will go full steam ahead on its own policies and no outside pressure can hold them back (my emphasis below):

On March 18, the state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Jong Un declared the construction of ‘Ryomyong Street’, which is to be built between Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and the Ryonghung Crossroads in Pyongyang. The street’s name signifies a place where ‘the dawn breaks in the Korean revolution’. Kim also mentioned that the area is to be surrounded by magnificent skyscrapers and multi-level buildings that fit the geographical characteristics surrounding the palace, displaying the Party’s idea of giving importance to science and talents in socialist Korea.
[…]
Along these lines, Kim put emphasis on the policy of securing building materials in constructing the new street and to diversify the size, design and color of decorative objects on the exterior of buildings. He also instructed for the mobilization of ‘soldier-builders’ who previously worked on the construction of Mirae Scientists Street. The construction of the new street shall be carried out with “Mallima speed” during the country’s ‘70-day campaign’ in run-up to the Party Congress scheduled for this upcoming May. The news report also stated that “the party, state, and society should render positive assistance to the construction and the Cabinet, commissions, ministries and national institutions take the lead in this work.”

According to the report, Kim Jong Un also said that “The construction of the street is not merely for formation of a street but serves as a political occasion of clearly showing the spirit of the DPRK standing up and keeping up with the world, despite all sorts of sanctions and pressure by U.S. imperialists and their followers, the appearance of the country advancing to realize the great ideal of the people and truth that the DPRK is able to be well-off in its own way and nothing is impossible for it to do.” The construction of the street appears in part as a means to show off the strength of ‘Songun’ Korea, following in the footsteps of Kim Jong Il’s policy.

Despite the strong sanctions imposed upon the country by the international community, North Korea is striving to achieve some form of economic success. The 70-day campaign has been initiated in the run-up to the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party. North Korean media are boasting about the country’s successes on the production front since the campaign’s initiation, saying “under the Juche ideology, people are working hard especially in the fields of electricity, coal, metal, and railroad transportation that they have achieved great success in the [campaign’s] first week.”

Full article here:
North Korea to Construct ‘Ryomyong Street’ Despite Sanctions
Institute for Far Eastern Studies
03-29-2016

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DPRK announces Ryomyong Street Project

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Ryomyong-street-2016-3-18

Pictured above (Google Earth): The location and approximate area of renovation of the newly announced Ryomyong Street

UPDATE 1 (2016-3-29): According to the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES):

North Korea to Construct ‘Ryomyong Street’ Despite Imposed Sanctions

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered for the construction of ‘Ryomyong Street’ in Pyongyang. Following the development of Mirae Scientists Street, the new street will serve as another landmark of the Kim Jong Un era, and this order of his can be interpreted as an economic move in response to the recent UN sanctions against the country.

On March 18, the state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Jong Un declared the construction of ‘Ryomyong Street’, which is to be built between Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and the Ryonghung Crossroads in Pyongyang. The street’s name signifies a place where ‘the dawn breaks in the Korean revolution’. Kim also mentioned that the area is to be surrounded by magnificent skyscrapers and multi-level buildings that fit the geographical characteristics surrounding the palace, displaying the Party’s idea of giving importance to science and talents in socialist Korea.

The report also announced that the street will include residential apartment housing, daycare centers, laundry services, post offices and other public service buildings and amenities, including for the scholars, scientists and educators at Kim Il Sung University, and to push ahead with construction of Building No. 3 at Kim Il Sung University. In making the street, the construction is to emphasize 21st century energy conservation and eco-friendliness, hence the goal to design lighting and heating systems of the housing and public buildings so that they utilize solar panels, geothermal energy, and natural lighting, and for roof tops to “go green” with instillation of greenhouses.

Along these lines, Kim put emphasis on the policy of securing building materials in constructing the new street and to diversify the size, design and color of decorative objects on the exterior of buildings. He also instructed for the mobilization of ‘soldier-builders’ who previously worked on the construction of Mirae Scientists Street. The construction of the new street shall be carried out with “Mallima speed” during the country’s ‘70-day campaign’ in run-up to the Party Congress scheduled for this upcoming May. The news report also stated that “the party, state, and society should render positive assistance to the construction and the Cabinet, commissions, ministries and national institutions take the lead in this work.”

According to the report, Kim Jong Un also said that “The construction of the street is not merely for formation of a street but serves as a political occasion of clearly showing the spirit of the DPRK standing up and keeping up with the world, despite all sorts of sanctions and pressure by U.S. imperialists and their followers, the appearance of the country advancing to realize the great ideal of the people and truth that the DPRK is able to be well-off in its own way and nothing is impossible for it to do.” The construction of the street appears in part as a means to show off the strength of ‘Songun’ Korea, following in the footsteps of Kim Jong Il’s policy.

Despite the strong sanctions imposed upon the country by the international community, North Korea is striving to achieve some form of economic success. The 70-day campaign has been initiated in the run-up to the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party. North Korean media are boasting about the country’s successes on the production front since the campaign’s initiation, saying “under the Juche ideology, people are working hard especially in the fields of electricity, coal, metal, and railroad transportation that they have achieved great success in the [campaign’s] first week.”

ORIGINAL POST (2016-3-18): Here are some official photos from Rodong Sinmun:

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Ryomyong-Street-3 Ryomyong-Street-2

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According to KCNA:

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, declared the construction of Ryomyong Street and set forth the tasks for it on the spot, though he was very busy with his guidance over the 70-day campaign while disciplining the enemies’ anti-DPRK moves in the Paektu attack spirit.

The street is to be built in an area between the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and Ryonghung Crossroads in Pyongyang.

Seeing the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the sacred temple of Juche where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state, and Ryongnam Hill where the leader made a historic oath “O Korea, I Will Add Glory to Thee”, Kim Jong Un named the street to be built “Ryomyong Street” in the meaning that it is a significant place from where the dawn breaks in the Korean revolution.

He examined a layout of the street, a map showing the bird’s eye view of it and its model board and gave instructions for building the street into a monumental edifice strikingly displaying the WPK’s idea of attaching importance to science and talents and the might of socialist Korea.

The essence of its construction is to splendidly build apartment houses for scientists and researchers including educators of Kim Il Sung University, nursery, kindergarten, laundry, post office and other public buildings and public service amenities, he said, stressing the need to push forward the construction of Building No. 3 of the university at the same time.

It is the Party’s intention to turn Ryomyong Street into an energy-saving and green street in the 21st century, he said, adding that the designing and construction units should set it as a goal to ensure the lighting and heating systems for the houses and public buildings with solar panels, geothermal energy and natural lighting and build rooftop greenhouses to go green.

Saying that he would dispatch the solider-builders, who took part in the construction of Mirae Scientists Street, to the construction of Ryomyong Street on the order of the KPA Supreme Commander, he gave an instruction that the entire party, state and society should render positive assistance to the construction and the Cabinet, commissions, ministries and national institutions take the lead in this work.

The construction of the street is not merely for formation of a street but serves as a political occasion of clearly showing the spirit of the DPRK standing up and keeping up with the world, despite all sorts of sanctions and pressure by the U.S. imperialists and their followers, the appearance of the country advancing to realize the great ideal of the people and the truth that the DPRK is able to be well-off in its own way and nothing is impossible for it to do, he said.

Noting that the construction of Ryomyong Street is a fierce battle with the U.S. imperialists and their followers, he called for completing the construction within this year to inspire the servicepersons and people with faith in sure victory and optimism and demonstrate the might of the DPRK fighting its way out with conviction in the rosy future and the traditions of ever-victorious Juche Korea that the world has neither understood nor can do.

This is the sixth overhaul of a specific housing area in Pyongyang since the 2012  “Strong and Prosperous Nation (강성대국) Policy” was implemented. The successfully completed efforts are Mansuade Area 1, Mansudae Area 2, Unha Scientists Street (for employees at the Second Academy of Natural Sciences), Satellite Scientists Street in Unjong District (next to State Academy of Sciences and new SEZ), and finally the Mirae Scientist Street in Phyongchon District, which houses facilities for Kimchaek University, a health club, lots of shops and restaurants, and possibly the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry (address in Haeun-2 dong). There are still many housing units that were started in 2012, but never completed, particularly in Hyongjesan and Rakrang Districts.

According to my North Korean maps, until this announcement Ryomyong Street (려명거리) was named Kumsong Street (금성거리).

As KCNA noted, the project aims to build apartment houses for scientists and researchers, nursery, kindergarten, laundry, post office and other public buildings and public service amenities–including the completion of Building No. 3 and a new stadium at Kim Il sung University. I have discussed these last two projects before.

Not mentioned in the article is what appears to be new housing for party cadres who live in high rises right next to the Worker’s Party No. 3 complex (complex 1 and 2 are in the “forbidden city” in Central District).

party-complex-3-housing-1 Complex-3-housing

Here is coverage in Yonhap.

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North Korea’s self-assessment of its economy in 2015

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, released an article on December 18 that evaluated North Korea in 2015 and commended it for “achieving a remarkable leap that reached 10 years achievement in just one year.”

The newspaper commented that many monumental works had been created in 2015 that changed the country. The newspaper also introduced the recently completed constructions of Mt. Paekdu Hero Youth Power Station, multi-tier power stations on the Chongchon River, Future Science Street, Mangyongdae School Children’s Palace, Pyongyang Nursing Home, Mansudae Fountain Park, and “Mujigae” ferry on the Taedong River.

In addition, the Sonbong region in Rason City which had suffered severe flood damages in August was reported to have achieved great changes in only 30 days, turning the village into a “socialist fairyland.”

The newspaper added that “this year, Choson [North Korea] embarked on the advancement of science and technology and emphasized ideology, weapons, and technology as three pillars for constructing great and powerful socialist nation.” It also stated that “in accordance with the party’s policy to turn all people into science and technology talents, institutions, factories, enterprises, and cooperative farms across the country were equipped with over 2,000 science and technology resource rooms.”

A corn processing plant and a catfish farm were discussed as examples: “Pyongyang corn processing plant has achieved automation, and dust and bacteria-free conditions in the entire production process, from raw material to the packaging stage”; “Pyongyang Catfish Farm established the comprehensive production system that integrated intellectualization, informatization, and magnetization in the factory.”

In particular, the newspaper mentioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s onsite field guidance visit to the Pyongyang Catfish Farm where he emphasized the modernization of farm, noting that “the modernization of the catfish plant did not simply bring in power and technology from outside but is based on our independent technology and facilities.”

Moreover, the newspaper said, “This year, measures were devised to improve the dietary level of the people through focusing on advancing livestock, agricultural, and marine products.” It further announced that “Vegetable Science Institute of the Academy of Agricultural Science succeeded in cultivation methods of producing 300 tons per chongbo (1 chongbo = 9,917 square meters) through vigorous research that concentrated on scientification of greenhouse vegetable cultivation.”

In addition, the newspaper added that “scientification” was promoted in other sectors including education, sports, and culture.

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KCNA reports on cost of Mirae Scientists Street?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Mirae-Scientists-street

Pictured above (Google Earth): The Mirae Scientists Street under construction (2015-5-20)

According to the Korea Times:

North Korea has invested about 10 billion won in North Korean currency creating a big housing precinct for scientists in Pyongyang, Yonhap reported Thursday.

The Korean Central News Agency said the communist regime had spent about 9.9 billion won on 19 buildings to house 2,584 households and commercial and public facilities.

The first phase was completed on April 15, the birthday of late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. Phase two was finished on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean Workers’ Party on Oct. 10.

Leader Kim Jong-un was quoted as saying the new street reflects the “love for people, respect for people and politics that puts people first” of the North Korean Workers’ Party.

For what it is worth KPW9.9 billion is approximately US$1.237 million on the black market, which comes to just $478/household assuming they each got an individual unit.

However, I would not get to hung up on these numbers, I cannot find any story in KCNA on the cost of Mirae Scientists Street, so until I hear an official estimate, I am going to put an * next to these numbers.

Here is what KCNA had to say about Kim Jong-un’s tour of the recently completed Mirae Scientists Street:

Pyongyang, October 21 (KCNA) — Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, went round Mirae Scientists Street, which was successfully completed as a model of Juche-oriented architecture and fairy street in the era of the Workers’ Party.
Feasting his eyes on the street, he said the longer one watches it, the more magnificent and spectacular it looks. He noted with pleasure that it proves visually the idea of the Workers’ Party of Korea of attaching importance to science and talents, it is a fashionable street of perfect combination of the Juche character, national identity, originality and formative art and unique one of our style which appeared in the capital city of Pyongyang as an icon of cultural efflorescence.

He said it is something unimaginable to build a street with flats for thousands of families and more than 150 public catering outlets in a matter of just one year by the existing method of construction. He noted with excitement that the completion of Mirae Scientists Street convinces everybody that the appearance of the country would undergo beyond recognition a decade later as everything is done in just one year instead of ten years.

Going round different places of the street, he learned in detail about the construction.

He said that it is fantastic, indeed, to watch the tower symbolic of the 53-storied skyscraper which has been built like an electronic track so that one may know it is Mirae Scientists Street even from distance, adding that formative art was applied to all the buildings at a very high level.

He was pleased that the flats have been constructed at the best quality and teachers and researchers would need to bring with them only hand luggage as their drawing rooms, parents’ rooms, rooms for couples, children’s rooms, kitchens, etc. are fitted with high-quality furniture and fixtures,

Hearing officials say foreigners will hardly believe that ordinary educators and scientists of the country will live free of charge in such deluxe apartment houses in the street on the picturesque bank of the Taedong River, he said that it is the advantages of the socialist system in the DPRK which capitalist countries can neither imitate nor build.

He praised the builders for having built all kinds of public catering and cultural and welfare establishments on the ground floors of the buildings in an impeccable manner to meet requirements of settlers.

He noted with appreciation that resting places and sporting parks have been built in a peculiar style so that residents might have good rest and do sports and greening in the residential area and the project for reinforcing banks of the river were done very well.

It is the steadfast will of our party to consolidate the foundation of socialism by dint of science and advance socialism with the power of the engine of science, he said, stressing the need to steadily increase substantial investment in the scientific researches on the basis of the successes and experience gained in the work for consolidating the material and technical foundations of different scientific research bases and improving the living standard of the scientists and researchers in recent years.

All the buildings of the street spruced up at a speed unprecedented in the history of construction are laudable structures of Songun Korea built by our service personnel and people with the will to create everything dear in their own style by their own efforts at a lightning speed, optimistic about the future, and they are valuable crystal of their patriotism, he said, extending thanks to the units of the Korean People’s Army and other units which participated in the construction, builders and helpers in the name of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

He expressed expectation and belief that all the builders would give fullest play to the inexhaustible mental power displayed in the construction of Mirae Scientists Street and make a positive contribution to turning Pyongyang City into a hub of Songun culture and the most magnificent and fashionable city of the world fame in all aspects and building the socialist country into a highly civilized nation.

He gave an instruction on inaugurating the street.

He was accompanied by Hwang Pyong So, Kim Ki Nam, Kim Yang Gon, O Su Yong, Jo Yong Won and Ma Won Chun.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea pours 10 billion won into street for scientists
Korea Times
2015-10-22

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On the Hyesan and Sinuiju real estate markets

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

According to the Daily NK:

Construction of new apartment buildings is being accelerated in North Pyongan Province’s Sinuiju and Hyesan, Yanggang Province, with low rise apartments fetching the highest price at nearly US $10,000. Unlike Sinuiju, which has high rise buildings, Hyesan is mainly constructing low rise apartments. Apartments at or above the fifth floor are being called “Royal Suites,” and selling for big money, according to inside sources.

In a telephone conversation with the Daily NK on October 1st, a source in Yanggang Province explained, “Hyesan is currently undergoing a makeover. New apartments are going up all over the city. Residents are preferring the high rise apartments despite their relative scarcity, or perhaps because of it. Right now a fifth floor, two room apartment (approximately 80-120 square feet) sells for 60,000-70,000 Yuan (US $10,000- $11,000) is the most expensive.”

Another source in Yanggang Province confirmed this development.

In Hyesan, the lower floors go for much cheaper; apartments in floors 1-3 usually sell for about 20,000 – 25,000 Yuan (US $3,000 – $4,000).

“The prices tend to be tied to the floor level like this,” she explained.

“By the time the Korean Workers’ Party Foundation Day holiday arrives on October 10th, Hyesan will look like a totally new city. But construction is not limited to Hyesan; we also see apartment buildings shooting up in Hyesan’s suburbs and riverside regions, in Tabsongdong near Hyesan Stadium, and in Hyemyeongdong, an area filled with statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.”

Added the source, “Much of the construction is due to investment from the Hwagyo [community of overseas Chinese] residing here. They buy one story houses at a very cheap price and then build up a multi-storied apartment and sell it off. They are making a good amount of money through the sales, but the residents are happy to be enjoying the more modern living spaces, so it’s a win-win.”

When asked why the residents prefer apartments on higher floors, the source said that “people are less worried about theft of furniture and large appliances when they live higher up.” In years past, she asserted, most people preferred to be ground level so that they could have access to the yard for planting vegetables. But now, “ lots of folks are worried about flood damage during the rainy season or the possibility of theft.”

She continued to describe the state of one story homes, saying, “houses near Nongnim University or the Hyesan train station sell for approximately 25,000 Yuan (US $4,000). Homes in Yeonbong Il Dong sell for rather cheap at 5,000 Yuan (~$800). However, there are some pricier places in Yeonbong located near the jangmadang (marketplace) that sell for about 20,000 Yuan (~US $3,000).”

Last week the currency conversion rate in Hyesan was 1 Yuan/1320 KPW. That means that a 60,000 Yuan apartment sells for about 80 million KPW (~US $70,000) and a cheaper home selling for 5,000 Yuan sells for about 6.5 million KPW (~ US $7,000).

Read the full story here:
Hwagyo investors fuel building boom
Daily NK
Kang Mi Jin
2015-10-2

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In Pyongyang, it’s “out with the old, in with the TBD”…

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Pyongyang’s construction boom is taking its toll on some of the city’s most historic landmarks. Recently while perusing on Google Earth I noticed one of central Pyongyang’s most unique (and old) buildings had been torn down.

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Pyongayang-apartment-2015-5-20

Here is what the building looked like before it was torn down (Source: Kernbeisser):

Apartment-building-Kernbeisser

At the time it was torn down, it housed the Taedongmun Restaurant (대동문식당), Student Library (학생도서관), Fishing Tackle Shop (낚시도구전문상점), and allegedly some kind of driving offenses office.

This was one of the first buildings to be constructed in Pyongyang following the Korean War. Images of the new building can be found in North Korea Caught in Time by Chris Springer (p80):

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It appears to have been built even before most of the buildings on Kim Il-sung Square.

A fellow North Korea enthusiast was able to provide some (actual) rare images of the building being torn down:

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I was also able to dig up a declassified CIA report published on 1959-5-14 (Slightly edited to improve reading experience) that contained some information on the building when it was constructed:

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Obviously the “D” wing was torn down sometime between 1959 and 2000. After the elimination of the original “D” wing, newer construction gave the building a distinct “L” shape.

Many apartment buildings in Pyongyang are being torn down. To see what will replace them, we will have to wait and see.

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Wonsan Kalma Airport imagery (UPDATED)

Monday, August 17th, 2015

UPDATE 1 (2015-8-17): Kim Jong-un visited the Wonsan Airport (Kalma Airport) for an air force demonstration reported in Rodong Sinmun on July 30. You can see a video of that event here. A second official video claims that the demonstration took place on July 28. A satellite image of the facility was taken just the day before (July 27) and we can see some of the new facilities and preparation for Kim Jong-un’s arrival. I have already reported on most of this material at Radio Free Asia (새단장 갈마비행장…활주로에 광고도).

First, Google Earth imagery shows thousands of soldiers on the new runway practicing for Kim Jong-un’s arrival at the observation building. They can also be seen in the official images:

Wonsan-runway-soldiers-2015-7-27

wonsan-runway-soldiers-2015-7-30

We can also see the completed (on the outside) Wonsan Airport terminal building:

Wonsan-terminal-2015-7-27

Also unveiled is the new logo for the airport which reminds visitors that (despite the heavy military presence) the new airport welcomes civilian vacation travelers. We can see this design at both ends of the runway:

Wonsan-Kalma-airport-logo

We can also see what appears to be a (fifth!) runway for Kim Jong-un. This runway contains similar facilities to the new Kim Jong-il runway built in Taesong District for use of the individuals that live in the Kim Family’s Ryongsong Complex:

Kalma-kim-jong-un-runway

Pictured above: The probable Kim Jong-un light aircraft runway at the Wonsan Kalma Airport

Taesong-Kim-Jong-un-runway

Pictured above: Kim Jong-un’s runway in Taesong district of Pyongyang which bears a close resemblance to the facilities at the Wonsan Kalma Airport.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-5-1): New Google Earth imagery shows continued development of the new civilian airport in Wonsan. The airport is presumably intended to support the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone.

2015-3-26 (Google Earth)

Wonsan-Airport-2015-3-26

2015-2-10 (Google Earth)

Wonsan-Airport-2015-2-10

2014-12-25 (Google Earth)

Wonsan-Airport-2014-12-25

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Wonsan City seeing new construction area

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Kalma-street-construction

Pictured above (Google Earth): Site of the new Kalma Street construction site in Wonsan

According to KCNA (2015-5-20):

Ground-breaking Ceremony of Construction in Wonsan Area Held

Wonsan, May 20 (KCNA) — The Wonsan area will turn into a world-famous tourist city under the plan of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

A ground-breaking ceremony took place in Kalma Street on Wednesday.

Present there were Vice-Premier Kim Yong Jin, officials concerned, builders and citizens of Wonsan.

A reporter and speakers said it was the lifetime wishes and behests of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il to spruce up Wonsan area.

Marshal Kim Jong Un launched a big operation for building Wonsan area into a world famous tourist city, model of city formation, with noble intention to bring about a fresh turn in building a highly civilized socialist nation and dynamically aroused the whole party and country to the drive for doing so, they said.

They called for launching vigorous campaigns to carry out the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and defending the party’s policies to powerfully demonstrate the might of Songun Korea in construction once again.

At the end of the ceremony they started projects including dwelling houses at the entrance of Kalma Street in Wonsan City.

Here is coverage by the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES):

Wonsan: Start of Construction as ‘Global Tourist City’

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has reported that the groundbreaking ceremony for the Wonsan region took place on May 20, 2015 on Wonsan city’s Kalma Street.

The KCNA explained that “in accordance with the plans of the Korean Workers’ Party, the Wonsan region will be vigorously transformed into a global tourist city.” It also reported that Vice Premier of the Cabinet Kim Yong Jin was in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony.

According to attendees at the ceremony, “The proper management of the Wonsan region is the will of Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il as well as their earnest dying injunction.” They also stressed that “Comrade Kim Jong Un is committed to bringing about a new change in the construction of a civilized socialist state and has unfolded a magnanimous strategy for managing the Wonsan region as a model of city development and global tourist cities.”

The KCNA reported that after the ceremony ended construction was started on private homes near the entrance to Kalma Street.

The ‘Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region’ was announced as a central-level Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on June 11, 2014 by way of an ordinance by the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA). It is part of the large-scale tourism belt that includes Wonsan district, the Masikryong Ski Resort, Ullim Falls, and the Sogwansa, Tongchon, and Kumgangsan districts.

The KCNA confirmed that the Wonsan development was the “will” and “dying injunction” of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, offering as evidence the fact that Kim Jong Il made the development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region a recent priority of North Korea’s foreign economic sector.

In his 2015 New Year’s address, Kim Jong Un proclaimed to the people, “We need to multilaterally develop foreign economic relations and actively push forward the development of economic development zones like the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region.” Also, in February 2015, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee and Central Military Commission presented ‘joint slogans’ for the 70th year anniversary of the country’s liberation and the Party’s founding. Among those presented was the slogan, “Let’s actively push forward the economic development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region!”

In May 2015, North Korea took the ‘18th Pyongyang Spring International Product Exhibition’ as an opportunity to hold an investment briefing session regarding the development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region. Another on-site investment briefing at Kumgangsan is slated for six days beginning May 25, 2015.

Regarding the upcoming briefing, O Ung Gil, general manager of the Wonsan Area Development Corporation, said, “At the investment briefing, topics such as the favorability of the development zone (which has abundant tourist attractions), the legal environment, its current state, and the overall development plan will be revealed. […] All entrepreneurs and businessmen who have an interest in development in the region are welcome to attend.”

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KKG in Pyongyang

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

UPDATE 4 (2015-7-6): Stephan Haggard provides some additional information on Queensway Group/KKG.

UPDATE 3 (2015-6-24): Writing in the Financial Times, Tom Burgis links Queensway Group/KKG with Office 39.

UPDATE 2 (2015-5-1): J.R. Mailey has much more information on the Queensway Group/KKG.

UPDATE 1 (2014-7-17): Over at 38 North, J.R. Mailey has uncovered much more information on KKG (Queensway Group) and linked it with the Kaesong High Tech Industrial Park.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-9-11): “Kumgang Street/KKG Avenue Project in Pyongyang”: Aggressive construction and re-development projects have taken place on Pyongyang’s Mansudae Street over the last few years as part of the DPRK’s “Strong and Prosperous Nation (강성대국)” policies. See Mansudae renovation no. 1 here and Mansudae renovation no. 2 here.

Residential construction projects, however, have been limited neither to Mansudae Street (See here, here, here, here, hereherehere, here) nor to Pyongyang. In the interest of [my] time, I will offer only the most recent example: There are reports of an ambitions real-estate project in Chongjin, though satellite imagery in the area is too old to confirm the project or evaluate its size/scope.

However, a recent tourist photo taken in Pyongyang near the Tongil Market reveals yet another ambitious plan for residential development in Rakrang-guyok (락랑구역). It is unclear how long this project has been planned or if/why it appears to be on hold. Here is the photo of the billboard:

Click here to see a larger version of this photo on flickr.

According to the billboard, this project bears the name “Kumgang Street” in Korean (금강거리) and “KKG Avenue” in English. The operation appears to be run by 금강경제개발총회사 (The Kumgang Economic Development Corporation). A quick Google search for “금강경제개발총회사” yields pleanty of results, but all of them are in Korean–meaning it will be excruciatingly painful for me to do any research on this organization. If you can determine anything else about this project, please let me know.

From what I can tell, this effort is set to take place just north of the Tongil Market (conspicuously absent from the billboard, though enhanced with a wide avenue and bridge to Yanggak Island). Here is the approximate location as seen on Google Earth (I have added the position of the proposed Yanggak Bridge to make the comparison easier):

According to the billboard, the Mullet Soup Restaurant on the bank of the Taedong River will be part of the finished project.  The remainder of the land looks like it has been cleared and prepared for the development project, although historical imagery on Google Earth indicates that this land has been largely unused for decades. The image below dates from 2000-6-12:

 According to “The Skyscraper Center” the tallest building(s) in the new development will be 274m/899 feet.

I have been able to find out little more about this project. Again, if you can find additional information, please let me know.

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